Text: Matthew 21:28-30
But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, son, go work today in my vineyard, He answered and said not: but afterward he repented and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise and he answered and said, I go sir, and went not.
Jesus at many times during his earthy ministry made use of parables to convey divine truth and to express some unnoticed realities to his hearers. The parable of two sons as recorded by St Matthew was a parable which Jesus said at the most critical point of his ministry, at the final days of his life. Jesus against all odds entered Jerusalem and taught in the Temple. While he was teaching in the Temple, some heard his word and accepted him as the messiah and turned to God in repentance. This annoyed the Jewish leaders especially the High Priest who challenged his authority. Jesus in response to their challenge used this parable or hypothetical story to make them reason about their stand in God.
The first thing Jesus wanted them to know was the truth and the fact that a father has authority over his children and desires obedience from them. As leaders of Israel and Pries, they themselves knew that Disobedience to one’s father is a sin, Deut. 21:18-21. If a man has a disobedient child, the man was to report the child to the elders and the child would be stoned to death. As the earthy fathers demands obedience, so also our heavenly father. Moses advised the Israelites thus in Deut. 4:1 Now therefore harken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the Judgments which I teach you, for to do them that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers giveth you.
In the parable, the father first called one of his sons to go and work in his vineyard. This son instantly refused, but later repented, went and worked. The second son placated the father with quick agreement to go and do as the father requested but did not do so. Assessing the two sons, they were both imperfect, one in is response to his father’s request. He disrespected his father in his response but repented and became obedient. These were the prostitutes, tax Collectors, sinners who heard John the Baptist and repented and became obedient. This shows we can reclaim our obedience through repentance. The second son in words respected his father but in deeds disrespected him. Look at his response I go Sir He spoke well, but was simply giving lip-service. These are the Pharisees, High Priest and Jewish leaders. They claimed to know the law and that they were obeying it. They showed outward appearance of being obedient to the word of God; they teach the law but they themselves were not keeping it.
From this parable we can deduce the Nature of True Obedience.
- True Obedience is that come from love for the father and not out of fear. The first child who repented wasn’t afraid of his father, reason he said initially “I will not go” But when he realised his father’s love, and because of his own love, he felt bad, for being disobedient and did the work. If we are simply obedient because we are afraid that evil may befall us, this is not a true obedience.
- True obedience is not in what we are forced to do. It is what we do simply because we know that God has commanded it and it is good for us as a child to do it. When we only obey, when we are coerced by someone or the Church authority, it is not a true obedience.
- True obedience is not doing our will but doing the will of the father. Anytime our will crosses the will of the father. The will of the father supersedes. The will of the first son may be to do something else. But he abandoned that to do the will of the father.
- True obedience is in doing the work exactly how the father wants it. King Saul was asked to totally exterminate the Amalekites and everything in that city. He obeyed halfway; Obedience is in doing what God wanted and the way He wants it.
Beloved, we are to obey God and our obedience must be a true one, James 1:22 enjoin us not to be hearers of the word of God alone but doers of the word. Doing the word of God is what God is interested in, it is our actions and not words. Luke 11: 28 says “He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it. St. James added in 1:25 “But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues in it- not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it-they will be blessed in what they do”.
Living the life of true obedience is hearing and doing the will of God, it is strict adherence to teachings of Jesus as found in the Bible. It is to be totally committed to the study of God’s word and obeying it. It is not to live a life of lip service to the things of God and the teachings of the scripture. It is not to disrespect Jesus authority.
Jesus explained this parable further in His words in verses 31-32 about the Tax Collectors. To Jesus the Pharisees were only paying lip service to the Laws of God but the converted and regenerated Tax Collectors and prostitutes did. The lives of the Pharisees did not match the word of God.
Beloved, are you in true obedience to the authority of Christ? Do you obey the scripture or are you simply paying lip service? Repent today become regenerated by accepting Jesus as your Lord and Saviour and as well keep His commandments.
Very Revd Adewale Adebiyi Ph.D